Ending actual years of speculation, yesterday the cast of Marvel Studio’s (new) new Fantastic Four team was announced. As previously reported, Pedro Pascal will star as stretchy science man Reed Richards, and he is joined by Vanessa Kirby as Sue Storm, Joseph Quinn as Johnny Storm, and The Bear’s Ebon Moss-Bachrach—who is also a veteran of Netflix’s The Punisher—as Ben Grimm/The Thing. 


Pascal and Moss-Bachrach have been rumored to be involved for months now, and Kirby and Quinn have been popular fan-casts for years (Joseph Quinn was immediately a fan-favorite to play Johnny Storm after breaking out in Stranger Things’ fourth season two years ago). So, it’s a combination of landing the fans’ idealized actors to play these roles, while also getting some of the best and hottest actors working right now. It’s a solid group, and with Matt Shakman of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fame directing, I am interested to see how this comes out. The new new Fantastic Four is due on July 25, 2025, so it’s not even like the wait is THAT long.


There is just one thing bugging me. Look, I do not defend the 2015 failed Fant4stic, it’s a failed movie with a terrible title treatment. But Josh Trank, who deserves criticism on a lot of levels, don’t get me wrong, tried to do something with that team that allowed for a more inclusive representation of Marvel’s “first family”. A lot of import is given to the Fantastic Four in nerd-dom, and Trank wanted to broaden what the “first family” could look like by casting the Storm family as Black. In the end, he cast Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm and Reg E. Cathey as Dr. Franklin Storm, but Kate Mara starred as Sue Storm, explained in the film as Johnny’s “war orphan” adopted sister. Trank later said he wanted to cast the whole family as Black, but got “heavy pushback” from the studio (which was Fox, at the time).


Again, the movie is bad and I’m not defending it, but I understand what Trank was trying to do. He had a little power and he wanted to use it to redefine Marvel’s most important family of superheroes and in the end, he could only kind of get it done (and to HUGE pushback from fans). And now, the new Fantastic Four is much safer, less boundary-pushing casting. Yes, Pedro Pascal is Latine, but the Storms are once again lily white. I do not blame actors for taking roles they are offered, but this is not the first instance of such re-casting occurring. Milly Alcock of House of Dragons fame was recently announced as DC’s new cinematic Supergirl, taking over from Sasha Calle, who is Latine. 


It just looks like part of a larger trend in entertainment in which investment in inclusive storytelling is declining. Not all that much progress was made in the first place, and it feels like what little gains were made are being wiped away. It’s like with all these superhero universes getting rebooted after a few years of market turmoil, studios are backing away from the inclusive proclamations of the 2010s for safer, more, er, traditional iterations of their characters. Basically, the minute they hit a speedbump, promises to “do better” went out the window, which I’m sure plenty of people see as a triumph of “anti-wokeness”. I like all these actors and I hope Fantastic Four turns out well, but it’s hard not to feel like the worst people are winning sometimes.